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The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sets forth standards of ethics for its members to follow.

In this lesson, we’ll examine their code of ethical conduct, including the core values, major areas of ethics, and the statement of commitment.

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NAEYC Code

Lorenzo just got a job as a preschool teacher. He’s very excited to start his career, and he’s heard that he can become even better as an educator if he joins the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which is an association that is dedicated to making sure that young children across the country get a good education. By joining, Lorenzo will be making a commitment to that same ideal. But it’s not just about that general ideal; NAEYC also has a code of ethical conduct, which outlines the association’s position on the ethics of teaching young children. To help Lorenzo understand NAEYC’s code of ethics, let’s take a closer look at the core values, areas of ethics, and the statement of commitment.

Core Values

Because people who work with infants, toddlers, and children under the age of eight might face moral or ethical dilemmas, the National Association for the Education of Young Children created their code of ethical conduct. To start with, they outlined several core values on which the code is based, including: appreciation, respect, and the recognition of social and cultural context.Teachers should appreciate childhood as a unique and valuable stage of the human life cycle, the bond between child and family, and how children develop and learn. Lorenzo shouldn’t see children as less than adults. That being said, however, he needs to consider that children develop and learn in specific ways. Therefore, he shouldn’t try to teach his preschoolers the same way that his college professors taught him. Lorenzo will want to recognize the importance of a child’s family members and work to help support them.

Teachers should respect the dignity, worth, and uniqueness of each individual, as well as diversity in and of itself. Lorenzo will want to respect the students in his class as well as his colleagues and the family members of his students. He should acknowledge that they don’t all come from the same background as he does, and he’ll want to support them as they are.

Teachers should recognize that children are best understood and supported in the context of family, culture, community, and society, and that potential is achieved only with trust and respect. Lorenzo will want to create a safe space in his classroom for his students, their families, and his colleagues to feel supported, trusted, and respected.

Areas of Ethics

Those core values seem pretty straightforward, but they’re just the foundation upon which the code of ethical conduct is based.

The code itself is divided into four general areas of ethics, with guidelines for decision-making.The first concerns ethical responsibilities to children. The ideals behind this area including continuing education to help extend knowledge, basing programs on research into child development and education, creating a safe and healthy environment for children, using appropriate assessments to guide instruction, and advocating for all children. The main principle for this area is that above all, teachers shall not harm children. Other principles include non-discriminatory practices, building relationships with each individual child, and recognizing and reporting abuse.The second general area concerns ethical responsibilities to families.

The ideals behind this area include developing relationships with and welcoming family members, respecting families’ preferences and beliefs, sharing information with and helping family members understand their child’s education, and fostering family support networks. The principles include not denying family members access to the classroom or programs, making sure families are able to have a say in decisions about their child, informing the family of any risks or injuries to the child, and referring families to community resources.The third involves ethical responsibilities to colleagues. The ideals behind this area include respect, trust, and shared resources with coworkers, and not diminishing the reputation of the program in which the educator works.

The principles include recognizing the contribution of colleagues, anti-discrimination, following policies, and talking to the program administrator with concerns about the safety or well-being of children.Furthermore, it also covers what to do if an educator is concerned about the behavior of a colleague. If that behavior doesn’t put children’s well-being at risk, it’s best to first address concerns to the colleague in question. However, if it does, report it to the appropriate authority.Lastly, the fourth general area involves ethical responsibilities to the community and society. The ideals behind this area include providing quality early childhood services; promoting cooperation among community programs; educating, advocating, and furthering the professional advancement for early childhood development.

The principles include communicating clearly and honestly, being familiar with laws and regulations to protect children, and working as a group to shape or change policies that harm or don’t help children.

Statement of Commitment

Lorenzo likes that each ethics section is grounded in the idea that children come first. Now he’s wondering how he can show his support for NAEYC’s code of ethical conduct. Though it’s not officially part of the code, there is a statement of commitment that he can read and sign. The statement includes a list of pledges as outlined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children that includes things like never harm children, respect and support families and colleagues, and stay informed and self-reflective. Lorenzo has no problems signing this commitment, especially as he notices that it outlines the essential points of the longer code of ethical conduct.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), is an association dedicated to early childhood education. Their code of ethical conduct outlines how and why teachers should show an appreciation of childhood as unique and valuable, of children’s bond with family, and of their development; how and why teachers should demonstrate respect for diversity and the dignity, worth, and uniqueness of each individual; and how and why teachers should display a recognition of the context of family, culture, community, and society, as well as the importance of trust and respect.

In addition to those core values, the code is divided into four sections based on ethical responsibilities to children, families, colleagues, and community and society. Each one has ideals to guide the aspirations of educators and principles to govern the conduct of educators. Educators can also sign a statement of commitment that outlines the important elements of the code of conduct.

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